Settling into a new country can be difficult – there’s no escaping that. Awkward language-barrier conversations, new cultural traditions and unfamiliar weather can all add up to make you feel dislocated and homesick.
However, sport offers a universal language through which you can make friends and find your feet in exotic climes. In this post, we’ll run through the reasons why sports help ease you into the social and cultural rhythm of living abroad.
You’ll be involved in a ritual
If you’re moving to a major city in Europe or South America, then chances are there’s a local football team that is part of the city’s DNA. If you’re feeling a little lost in your new surroundings, then why not go along to a match to understand the various moods the city experiences, depending on if the team win or lose?
Joining in this ritual is an easy way to tap into the local customs – be it the places the fans drink before the matches, the crowd’s favourite player or the songs sung on the terraces. Many European cities place great importance on matchdays. After 90 minutes of frenetic action in such a setting, you may well have made new friends in the stands and gained a greater understanding of the sports culture of your new home.
It’ll help you explore
After a little while living the expat life in a new city, you might feel like you’ve settled into a pleasant routine, albeit one that allows you a significant comfort zone. Breaking out of this routine is key to icebreaking and truly feeling at home in your new surroundings.
Investing in a quality road bike will mean that you have the means to explore off the beaten track every once in a while. Whether it’s conquering a local hill or just cycling to the next town over, you’ll build up an improved knowledge of your new home – prompting you to step out of your routine, leaving you free to explore.
Your club becomes your family
The loneliness of expat life can be combatted by joining a sports club and getting stuck in – and there are plenty of options in any of the world’s major cities. Don’t think you have to adopt the local sport, either – a useful part of expat networking is finding your native sport in a large foreign city, evidenced by the dedicated cricket players of New York or the Gaelic sports club in Hong Kong.
These clubs can help you break the ice by providing you with a networking opportunity – you’ll instantly be surrounded by like-minded people with deeper roots in the community that will be on hand to help you settle in.
Whether it’s a casual game every once in a while or a more serious club-based activity, sports of any kind offer an easy gateway into a more sociable and active expat lifestyle. So, before you set off on your life-changing move, have a browse of what the local sports scene has to offer – you won’t regret it.